September 28, 2015

Another eclipse

I tried to take a picture of the eclipse with my phone but it obviously didn't turn out well. Still the lunar eclipse reminded me of a time long ago when a similar event brought disaster.

It happened during the Peloponnesian War between ancient Athens and Sparta and its  allies . The war lasted from 431 to 404 BC and sped the decline of Greece. It went through several fits and starts.

One of the worst turns was the Athenian decision to send an expedition to Syracuse, a fabulously wealth city in Sicily. For all kinds of reasons let's just say it turned out bad.

But when the Athenians were finally about to cut their losses and head for home, a lunar eclipse occurred. The Athenian general Nicias was given to believe in omens and, after consulting priests, decided to way 27 days.

That was just enough time for the Syracusans to seal their doom. With few exceptions, those of the Athenians who weren't massacred wound up dying in the stone quarries where they were kept in appalling conditions.

I draw two lessons from this:

1. just because you can go to war doesn't mean it's a good idea; and

2. when it's time to go, get the hell out.

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